PHARMACY

More than $2 billion added to workers’ compensation pharmacy costs, report finds

BY Alaric DeArment

ST. LOUIS — Workers’ compensation pharmacy costs took on an extra $2.1 billion in 2011 due to unnecessary use of more expensive drugs, according to a new report by pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts.

In its 2011 Express Scripts "Workers’ Compensation Drug Trend Report," the PBM found that use of higher-cost medications when therapeutically equivalent, lower-cost alternatives were available accounted for nearly all of the $2.1 billion in wasted pharmacy-related spending last year for payers that implement and optimize workers’ compensation pharmacy benefit management programs. About 125 million people are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits in the United States, and about 4.2 million suffer from a work-related injury or illness each year, according to ESI.

The drugs with the highest annual cost per user in 2011 were narcotic analgesics, which accounted for 38% of drug spending and 34% of utilization, and the top six therapy classes — which also included anticonvulsants, anti-inflammatory and dermatological medications — accounted for 76.2% of total drug spending.


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PHARMACY

ESI launches ScreenRx, offers preview of 2011 ‘Drug Trend Report’

BY Alaric DeArment

ST. LOUIS — Fresh off the heels of its merger with Medco Health Solutions, pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts announced Monday the launch of a medication nonadherence detection system and offered a preview of its annual "Drug Trend Report."

ScreenRx uses predictive modeling to detect future risk for nonadherence and tailors interventions for individual patients, offering them interventions to help them stay on their therapies once they’re identified. The program considers more than 400 known factors about the patient, physician, disease and therapy to identify who is most likely to stop taking their medications and identify ways to prevent nonadherence, such as daily alerts, 90-day fills or auto-renewals.

"ScreenRx enables Express Scripts to provide the most appropriate assistance to help each individual patient make healthier decisions, months after they might stop taking their medication," ESI chief medical officer Steve Miller said. "This solution brings the country one step closer to more affordable and effective care."

According to the 2011 "Drug Trend Report," for many therapies, less than 50% of patients take their medications as prescribed, costing the country’s healthcare system $317.4 billion in 2011, while eliminating nonadherence would cover the cost of providing health care for more than 44.8 million uninsured Americans.

The report also found that spending on prescription drugs increased 2.7% in 2011, the lowest annual drug trend the PBM has ever recorded. Trend for traditional medications fell to 0.1%, while specialty drug trend increased by 17.1%, with the top three specialty classes — inflammatory diseases, multiple sclerosis and cancer — accounting for 57.6% of total specialty spending. Meanwhile, hepatitis C had the highest cost increase of any specialty therapy class thanks to the introduction of new drugs.

Meanwhile, a 7% trend was found in diabetes, which accounts for the largest drug spend.

 


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NCPA heralds ‘Protect Your Pharmacy Week’

BY Michael Johnsen

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The National Community Pharmacists Association announced its recognition of the fifth annual "Protect Your Pharmacy Week" beginning Monday.

The week is a reflection of the Protect Your Pharmacy Now! initiative, which was launched in 2008 by the partnering organizations to encourage pharmacists to protect their stores, staff and patients against pharmacy crimes, including prescription drug robbery and thefts.

“[Community pharmacists] are proud of the fact that most independent community pharmacies have strong, long-lasting, face-to-face, personal relationships with their patients," NCPA past-president Joseph Harmison said. "This in fact serves as a deterrent to abuse because we know our patients, making it easier for us to detect a doctor shopper just looking for more controlled substances. Accordingly, we support efforts to educate pharmacists regarding how to effectively fulfill their role in decreasing prescription drug misuse, abuse and diversion.”

A highlight of the week is the annual call for volunteer video nominations for the Protect Your Pharmacy Now/RxPatrol Pharmacy Safety and Security Video. These training videos have featured various NCPA members offering real-life examples, tips and suggestions on pharmacy theft, primarily regarding robberies and burglaries. This year’s video will address instance of prescription fraud and diversion, such as forgeries, internal theft and doctor shopping. The video will be revealed at the 2012 NCPA Annual Convention and Trade Exposition in San Diego, October 13 to 17.

During Protect Your Pharmacy Week, pharmacists in all settings can read a weeklong series on various aspects of pharmacy safety and security on NCPA’s blog, The Dose, at NCPAnet.wordpress.com.

Crimes against pharmacy are a continuing problem, NCPA noted, with an 82% increase in pharmacy robberies in the past five years, according to the DEA. NCPA recently mailed to its members an updated reissue of its Protect Your Pharmacy Now! toolkit, with safety and security tips, and checklists to help pharmacies assess their current security needs. In addition, NCPA members receive posters and window clings to serve as reminders to employees, customers and drug seekers that robbing a pharmacy is a federal offense and carries with it severe penalties. The kit also includes discounts the NCPA has secured for employee background screenings, narcotics safes, surveillance systems, cameras, alarms and other theft-deterrent products to provide a turn-key resource for pharmacy operators.

In addition, NCPA recently endorsed the Safe Doses Act (S. 1002), legislation increasing penalties for theft and diversion of prescription medications. The issue also will be addressed at the upcoming NCPA Legislative Conference in May, with a pharmacy crime panel featuring representatives from Purdue Pharma, the Washington/Baltimore High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area and the Senate Committee on the Judiciary.

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